CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy’s Ethan Zubak said it’s all about making a good impression, and he’s definitely lived up to his word.
The 21-year-old native of Corona has made it his objective this preseason to show the coaching staff what he can do, and so far the young striker has been impressive with two goals in two scrimmages, including the opening score in Monday’s 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Zubak, originally signed to a homegrown player contract last March 8, currently is listed as the backup striker behind Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who has been unable to train with the club while he secures his visa. Hernandez, however, reportedly was in Mexico on Monday to complete the paperwork that will make him available for Saturday’s official preseason opener against Toronto FC at 3 p.m.
Hernandez’s absence has left it to Zubak to assume some of the scoring load — Cristian Pavon had the other goal Monday — and Zubak has been more than happy to oblige.
“It’s important for a young player to make an impression,” he said. “Every chance you get to play in front of these guys, you’ve got to do something to impress them.
“You have to show what you can do so you can get more opportunities.”
Zubak is in his eighth season in the organization and captained Galaxy II in 2018 when he appeared in 31 matches (including 24 starts) and had 11 goals and two assists. He joined the first team last season and played in three games, all in a reserve role. He made his senior team debut in a 15-minute relief role of Emmanuel Boateng in a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas on March 9.
Zubak said his confidence understandably is higher this season, now that he has a year with the senior team under his belt.
“I’m much more comfortable,” he said. “Hopefully, this is the year that I can break through more. I’ve played with a lot of these guys, and they feel comfortable with me, and I think the coaches have more faith in me. I feel very confident.
“It’s a night and day difference. I would also say it’s a new group of guys, and a lot of them are very encouraging for me so far. Along with being more comfortable after playing a year at this level, these guys have been great.”
Zubak said he has set some goals this season, but nothing outlandish. He prefers a more realistic approach to what he is striving for in 2020.
“This year, it will be more of a year where it’s getting more playing time,” he said. “I don’t necessarily have a certain amount of playing time in mind, but I do want to be consistent with the first team. That’s my primary goal. I just want to try to break through.
“The first step before I do anything is I want to be the guy … right now, I’m under Chicharito, and my goal is to get on the field and make an impact so I can build myself into possibly competing for a starting position.”
Zubak might have felt like an outsider when he was called up to the senior team last season, but that’s no longer the case.
“I definitely feel like I fit in,” he said. “It’s to the point where I feel I should be. I feel like it’s the right environment to nurture me to step my game up.”